Saturday, July 4, 2015

Vegan and Gluten Free Brownie Bites

This Fourth of July I decided to make something sweet to bring to a friend's BBQ.  Now, since my children choose to eat a vegan diet and I rarely make sweets except when they're home, most of what I have on hand are vegan ingredients.  Also, one daughter avoids gluten and she contends that it has greatly contributed to the fact that she no longer needs to medicate for depression.  For that reason, and the fact that I try not to consume much wheat at all as I fight the middle age battle of the bulge, I only keep gluten free flour in my cabinet.  
I've found this one from Costco to be quite good as a one to one substitute in all of my baking recipes.  Now for the recipe, I adapted one from one of my favorite bloggers, Dana is a pro blogger and always has super quick and delicious vegan recipes!  I started with her Simple Vegan Brownie recipe, made it GF and added the frosting to come up with a hit!  After deciding what to make I gathered the ingredients...

With everything mixed, the mini muffin pans filled, and the oven hot, it was time to bake, cool and frost!

I had these plastic star plates from the Dollar Tree that were perfect to take them to the BBQ.  The finishing touches with the patriotic sprinkles were just right. They were a big hit for holiday style and deliciousness!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Thoughts on Charleston

 The Charleston shooting has brought a lot of things to my mind.  I am a South Carolinian by birth.  Charleston is one of my favorite cities in the US.  I grew up in Columbia which is the capital of South Carolina and about two hours away. I remember walking around and seeing the beautiful historic city more times than I can count. The landmark Emanuel AME church is as familiar to me as buildings in any town that I have resided in. My mother  had relatives who lived in the old part of Charleston near what’s called the Battery.  We visited them a couple of times for weddings or other affairs when I was very young. Our family also enjoyed the Charleston beaches, especially when my sister’s family lived at Edisto Beach.
    When I was in the fourth grade in 1970 South Carolina was celebrating its Tricentennial.  Imagine three hundred years of statehood!  (I live in Idaho now, and it has been a state for a mere 125 years.) For the Tricentennial, a park called Charles Towne Landing was built with 300 years of artifacts and history depicting the lives of the people who had been native to the land and those who made it their home; and of course, those who were brought as slaves to serve the particular settlers who owned plantations and lived according to a code that made sense to them alone.  
    In college and as a young adult, Charleston was a mecca to go to for the beaches or with the party-goers for the great clubs and bars and an occasional big name concert appearance. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo ripped through Charleston and I was there with the American Red Cross.  I had just completed Disaster Services Human Resources Training and spent three weeks in the field delivering food to people who were in all sorts of disarray.  I kept thinking of the people of a church where we delivered food on one of the barrier islands in Charleston after Hugo.  These folks had almost their entire church roof ripped off by the hurricane yet they were setting up a food distribution center to take care of the community and going forth to do God’s work.  I remember that they asked our crew from the food truck to come to Sunday services and we did.  We might have been the only white faces there but we simply felt like the family of God in His house.  We were welcomed and there was joy like no other in that place.  Except for seeing the sky because of the missing roof, you wouldn’t have any reason to believe that anything was amiss that day!  These people knew how to glorify and worship their Creator.  I learned more about lifting up and adoring God that day than I had in a lifetime of reverent liturgical protestant services. This church was alive with the Holy Spirit!
    I read reports of people who were shocked that Emanuel AME was having services on the Sunday following the shootings, but I didn’t expect anything less.  I’ve seen comments that “everybody” in the South is a racist. I believe there are surely plenty in the South as well as many other places but there are lots more people who are not racists. Just because a person is from a community or a family where there is prejudice or hatred or judgement that does not sentence them to living a life carrying those beliefs.  Every person decides for himself or herself what to think and how to act.  Does everyone in a family or a town or same club or same church have to like the same color? Or the same food? Do they all have to like the same books or movies?  Wear the same style clothes or hair? Dig a little deeper.  Do they have the same religion, work ethic, bedtime, philosophies of life?  Get real!  
    I’m very proud of the families of the victims of the Emanuel AME tragedy.  Their faith and Christian response is admirable and I hope for that kind of strength when I have trials.  I hope that some good can come from this sad and tragic loss. Maybe the people of SC who continue to glamorize the Confederate flag and other symbols of the Old South with take notice of the harm it can do in the mind of a person like Dylann Roof. To him maybe it’s more than just a memorial of a time past, it empowers hatred and fuels a need to turn the clock back to a time when he feels that hate was acceptable.
    And so my heart is heavy for the people of Charleston as they mourn a great loss and my prayers go with them.  For the families of the nine, I pray for comfort in the loss and strength to face each new day with purpose and joy.  I also pray for Dylann Roof, that he listens to the families’ admonitions and repents and seeks to know the only One who can save him from eternal damnation.  To the Roof family I pray for peace from what must be hell on earth.  Finally, after a lifetime of hearing “the South’s gonna rise again”,  maybe just a new phrase will come from this like “the South will rise above it, together and for all!”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Back to the blog!

I've been out of the blog loop for a really long time!  life! Oh, how it can get in the way!  My main objective this June is to stay on track with 1) Daily devotional; 2) Daily Exercise; 3) Home Organization; and 4) Prepare for a brand new self-created curriculum for my PE classes! Reliance on God is the only way.  Otherwise six weeks would never be enough to do it all and do it all well.

Anyway,  I'm very excited to have stumbled upon (I believe I was divinely-led, actually) an online Bible study on Proverbs that was just beginning on the day that I was seeking to start!  (That's how God works, you know).  I started that on Monday morning and it's good to feel plugged in to a women's study again. My girls' group here in my home church  dissolved due to lots of extenuating outside forces and saddened me greatly.  I hope that connecting this way I can gain strength to once again form another bond of ladies here in town.

Cardio continues to improve for me  with waliking times averaging around 15 minute miles and getting 2-3 miles in most mornings.  Strength training these days is usually not formal, but limited  to the massive amount of gardening that is going on- digging, wheelbarrow, weeding, etc.- definitely a full body workout!  Stretching mostly comes from some great videos thanks to the world wide web!  Especially fond of this one this week after all the gardening:

The home organization has begun by getting the garden beds cleaned out and planted.

School just got out last week, so asides from putting some papers in order and sending a few emails, the rest can wait a week or two!

Until next time-which will be sooner I hope!  Healthy thoughts!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Portabello Pizza

A delicious low-fat alternative to pizza (adapted from recipe at 

 Heat up a Tbsp of olive oil and saute 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic, 1/4 c. bell pepper, 1 small tomato or 4-5 grape tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/4 c. onion and 1/4 tsp. onion powder.
Add 1 1/2 cups raw spinach and continue to saute.

Squeeze a little lemon juice over sauteed veggies.

Stuff a large potabello cap with the mixture and top with 1 Tbsp shredded fat free cheese.  Broil to melt cheese.


1  cap Portabella mushroom
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
4-5 grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. basil
1 1/2 cup spinach
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp shredded fat-free cheddar cheese

Wash mushroom cap and pat dry.  Set aside.  Heat olive oil in skillet and sauté pepper, onion, tomatoes, garlic onion powder and basil until onions are transparent.  Add spinach and continue to sauté until spinach is cooked. Squeeze 1 tsp. lemon juice over mixture.  Place sautéed vegetables into portabello cap and press down. Top with cheese and broil for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 699 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 102%
Vitamin C 249%
Calcium 11%
Iron 55%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Nutritional Analysis
Good points
·         Low in cholesterol
·         Low in sodium
·         High in dietary fiber
·         High in iron
·         High in manganese
·         High in niacin
·         High in phosphorus
·         High in potassium
·         High in riboflavin
·         Very high in vitamin A
·         Very high in vitamin B6
·         Very high in vitamin C
Bad points
·         High in sugar

Kale Chips

A healthy and tasty snack!

These easy chips are healthy and delicious.  They are vegan and gluton free!
Garlic Sesame Kale Chips  
 6 cups Kale
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sesame seed
Cheesy Kale Chips
6 cups Kale
2 TBSP olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ c Nutritional yeast
Wash and remove stems from kale.  Toss with olive oil to coat. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread out evenly.Preheat oven to 425.  Sprinkle kale with other ingredients.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through.  Kale is ready when it is dry and crispy.  Don't overbake.  Let cool and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 74 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 206%
Vitamin C 134%
Calcium 10%
Iron 7%
Nutrition Grade A-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Nutritional Analysis
 Good points
·         No cholesterol
·         Very low in sugar
·         High in calcium
·         Very high in manganese
·         High in potassium
·         Very high in vitamin A
·         High in vitamin B6
·         Very high in vitamin C
Bad points
·         High in sodium

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Making an original Prom Dress

Being an original is important to my daughter and I wanted to make a special prom dress that showed her uniqueness...

We selected fabric and a vintage pattern from Vogue that she liked.
She loved the back of the dress, but wanted a sweetheart neckline instead of the pattern's round neckline.  I cut a bodice out of muslin to experiment with the neckline and to assure a good fit.
I put the bodice together and then used our purchased beaded trim to determine the best place to cut the neckline.

Using the muslin pattern, I cut and sewed the bodice and lining.

Buttonholes for the back lacing
Boning was added to give support to the bodice.

Next, I used lining fabric and sewed together the skirt  pieces.
I machine gathered the top edge of the skirt.

Next I cut a skirt of the tulle to go over the lining skirt.  I alternated teal and plum tulle as I assembled them and then made a second layer in which the teal was layered over the plum and plum over tulle.  This gave it a sort of irredescent look.

To gather the tulle skirt, I used fishing line and sewed over it with a giant zig-zag stitch.

I used double-wide quilt binding and stitched the tulle to it.  Then I removed the fishing line and sewed the lining and tulle to the bodice.

The dress is finished, but we decided the bodice front was too plain.
I drew out a pattern for beadwork on a piece of paper the used graph paper to make it proportional.  I transferred the pattern to tissue paper.  I put the tissue paper and a piece of black organza together held with an embroidery hoop. Using a needle and nylon thread, I beaded the design onto the organza.

When the pattern was completed, I cut away the organza and began to sew it onto the dress bodice.  as I attached the pattern, I cut away the organza that was holding it together.

THe finished dress...

Starting a blog

Summer's almost over for teachers and I promised myself that I would start a blog this summer.      

So here it goes:

     Who am I?  I am a child of God, the wife of Mike, the mother of Zachary and Elizabeth and a lover of life! I'm also a sister, a step-mother, a mother-in-law, an aunt, a neice, a cousin, a sister-in-law, and a friend.  I love to learn new things and share them. I like teaching people.  I teach PE to elementary students. I teach crafts and help out with high school youth at church. I have a license to teach cosmetology that I haven't used, but I did do hair for many years and always tried to teach my clients how to make their hair look when they leave the salon.  I've taught Sunday school, led Girl Scouts, coached soccer, and taught pre-school. 
     I've been sewing and crafting as long as I can remember and I'm hoping that through my blog I can share some helpful tips for others who enjoy fabric arts.  I also am striving to become a healthier person and want to share the recipes, activities, and home products that I'm learning about, creating, and using.  
     I've learned much from what other folks have blogged and really appreciate their time and efforts.  After all, shouldn't we share the good things that we know and help make the world a better place?  I think so.  I named the blog "Far more than diamonds..." from Proverbs 31:10 which describes finding a good wife.  I believe the strongest calling I have had in my life is to be a good wife and mother and maybe someone can use what I've learned to also pursue this high calling or whatever calling they hear.  God bless!